Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Teach us to pray, part 42: Whose Kingdom is it?

"Pray, then, in this way: 'Our Father who is in heaven, Hallowed be Your name. 'Your kingdom come. Your will be done, On earth as it is in heaven. 'Give us this day our daily bread. 'And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. 'And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil. [ For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.' ] (Matthew 6:9-13 NASB

We've been studying the Model Prayer from Luke. Today, we are looking at the last phrase of the Model Prayer recorded by Matthew. Not all manuscripts include it, but the important truth it teaches is worth understanding.

"For yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever." 

Jesus began His prayer with "Our Father who is in heaven, Hallowed by Your name", which is an acknowledgement of God's position and importance (He is in heaven and His name is honored or hallowed). He ended that same prayer with another acknowledgement of God's position and authority. In a way, Jesus was acknowledging that everything belongs to our Father, who is the All Powerful, Omnipotent God and to whom all glory is given.

In a prayer that has asked God for provision, forgiveness, and deliverance, it is only right that I would stop to say, "This is what I'm asking for, Lord, but You are in charge and what You say goes." It is a form of submission to the will of God when I admit that He is the One who owns everything and rules everything, and that I do not. "You are the boss of my situation, Lord, and I bow to that authority." 

Specific prayers help me to know with certainty that God has answered my prayers.  Specific prayers make it easier, in a way, for me to see His hand at work, but I can't presume to know what is best in all situations. Often, all I know is what I want, not what God wants. It takes considerable faith for me to bring a situation to the Lord and say, "I don't know what is best here, but You do. I'm trusting You, Lord. Thy will be done." 

There are times, however, when I do know what God will want in a situation because it is clear from His Word. Sometimes, unfortunately, what He wants and what I want aren't quite the same. "For Yours is the kingdom" says that I accept what He wants, instead of what I want. I bow my will to His. 

This bowing to the will of God is exactly what Jesus did in the Garden of Gethsemane. That will was personally horrible for Jesus for a moment in time, but is glorious in eternity, and brought about the redemption of the world. When I look at that Cross, it seems too much to bear, too much to ask, even of Jesus. When I see the empty tomb, however, I see the wisdom in God's will. There are times when His will for us seems terrible, but on the other side of that terrible is something worth having. 

For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison, (2 Corinthians 4:17 NASB)

When I'm in the midst of "light affliction", the last thing I want is for it to continue. If I could only remember that "eternal weight of glory", perhaps I might not kick against the temporary affliction quite so hard. If I would remember that God is in charge and He is good, how much easier it would be! When I pray, "For Yours is the Kingdom", when I acknowledge that He is in charge and His plan is good, it makes it much easier to submit my will to His. 

How, then, should we pray? Let us pour our hearts out to God, with all our requests and desires, but, before we end our prayers, let us acknowledge Who is in charge, and leave the ultimate decision about our wants and needs to the One who cares most and knows best.